January 13, 2015

Sierra Club Releases Scorecard: State Lawmakers Get Low Marks



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2015
Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808, mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club: State Lawmakers Get Low Marks
Latest Scorecard Shows House Members Get a “D” and Senate Receives a Failing Grade On Key Environmental Votes

LANSING - The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter today released its Legislative Scorecard, which tracked environmental voting behavior of  state House and Senate members during the 2013-14 legislative session. The Michigan Senate scored an average failing grade of 48 percent, with the House receiving a narrow passing grade of 60 percent. While the Scorecard generally showed that Democrats voted to maintain or strengthen environmental protections- more disturbingly - it showed Republicans generally voted to weaken or eliminate environmental protections.

“The 2013-2014 state Legislature was regressive when it comes to environmental protection, rolling back many of the safeguards we’ve had in place for decades. It’s extremely frustrating that the environment has become a partisan political issue,” said Mike Berkowitz, the Michigan Legislative Director for the Sierra Club. “Environmental protections are a no-brainer for all Michigan residents. Our members find it hard to believe that so many of our lawmakers are voting against clean air, clean water, and public health. We hope that incoming lawmakers will see our scorecard and be motivated to get rid of this anti-environment attitude in the next legislative session.”

The Sierra Club’s Scorecard calculated the results based upon 24 roll call votes in the House and Senate for the 2013-2014 legislative session, and also the 2011-2012 session for the Senate since they operate in 4 year cycles. According to the Scorecard, House Democrats scored an average of 85 percent, while House Republicans scored an average of 38 percent. Senate Democrats scored an average of 93 percent, while Senate Republicans scored an average of 27 percent. Only four lawmakers scored a perfect 100 percent. A full list of “Environmental Champions” (91-100 percent), “Environmental Stewards” (78-90 percent), and “Pollution Promoters” (zero-35 percent) is included at the end of this release. Oakland County state Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-41) was the highest scoring Republican with a 60 percent and the only member of the GOP to not receive a failing grade. Representatives Charles Brunner (D-96) and Scott Dianda (D-110) were the only two Democrats to receive a failing grade at 55 percent. The full scorecard is available here.

“Our legislature has the wrong priorities when it comes to protecting Michigan’s environment” said James D’Amour, a member of Michigan Sierra Club’s Political Committee who was once an active member of the Republican Party. “Clean air and clean water should not be partisan issues. We used to be leaders in making conservation a top priority, but no longer. The new direction of the GOP is disappointing and disheartening for Republicans like me who care about the environment.”

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The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 60,000 members and supporters in Michigan.


MICHIGAN SENATE


2011-2014 Environmental Champions (90-100% score)


District
Name
Party
Score (%)
1
Young, Coleman II
D
91
2
Johnson, Bert
D
97
3
Hood, Morris W III
D
98
4
Smith, Virgil
D
93
5
Hunter, Tupac A.
D
90
6
Anderson, Glenn
D
98
8
Hopgood, Hoon-Yung
D
95
9
Bieda, Steven M
D
93
14
Gregory, Vincent
D
95
18
Warren, Rebekah
D
98
23
Whitmer, Gretchen
D
93









2011-2014 Environmental Stewards (78-89% score)

None


2011-2014 Pollution Promoters (35% and below)


District
Name
Party
Score (%)
7
Colbeck, Patrick
R
26
10
Rocca, Tory
R
34
11
Brandenburg, Jack
R
23
12
Marleau, Jim
R
27
13
Pappageorge, John
R
28
15
Kowall, Mike
R
27
16
Caswell, Bruce
R
26
17
Richardville, Randy
R
26
19
Nofs, Mike
R
33
20
Schuitmaker, Tonya
R
26
21
Proos, John
R
26
22
Hune, Joe
R
27
24
Jones, Rick
R
25
25
Pavlov, Phil
R
23
26
Robertson, David B
R
21
28
Jansen, Mark
R
27
29
Hildenbrand, Dave
R
25
30
Meekhof, Arlan B
R
25
31
Green, Mike
R
28
32
Kahn, Roger
R
27
33
Emmons, Judy K
R
27
34
Hansen, Goeff
R
32
35
Booher, Darwin L
R
32
36
Moolenaar, John
R
26
37
Walker, Howard
R
30
38
Casperson, Tom
R
30


MICHIGAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


2013-2014 Environmental Champions (90-100% score)


District
Name
Party
Score (%)
1
Brian Banks
D
95
2
Alberta Talabi
D
95
4
Rose Mary Robinson
D
90
6
Rashida Tlaib
D
95
11
David Knezek
D
90
12
Douglas Geiss
D
95
13
Andrew Kandrevas
D
95
15
George Darany
D
95
18
Sarah Roberts
D
95
21
Dian Slavens
D
90
26
Jim Townsend
D
100
27
Ellen Lipton
D
95
28
Jon Switalski
D
100
29
Tim Greimel
D
95
35
Rudy Hobbs
D
95
37
Vicki Barnett
D
95
48
Pam Faris
D
95
50
Charles Smiley
D
95
52
Gretchen Driskell
D
90
53
Jeff Irwin
D
95
54
David Rutledge
D
90
55
Adam Zemke
D
95
68
Andy Schor
D
100
69
Sam Singh
D
95
71
Theresa Abed
D
95
76
Winnie Brinks
D
95
91
Collene Lamonte
D
90
92
Marcia Hovey-Wright
D
100





2013-2014 Environmental Stewards (78-89% score)



District
Name
Party
Score (%)
5
Fred Durhal
D
80
8
David Nathan
D
83
9
Harvey Santana
D
80
10
Phil Cavanagh
D
80
16
Robert Kosowski
D
85
34
Woodrow Stanley
D
85
49
Phil Phelps
D
79
60
Sean McCann
D
80
62
Kate Segal
D
85
67
Tom Cochran
D
79
75
Brandon Dillon
D
85
95
Stacy Oakes
D
80





2013-2014 Pollution Promoters (35% and below)


District
Name
Party
Score (%)
23
Pat Somerville
R
35
24
Anthony Forlini
R
35
30
Jeff Farrington
R
35
32
Andrea LaFontaine
R
35
33
Ken Goike
R
30
36
Pete Lund
R
35
38
Hugh Crawford
R
35
39
Klint Kesto
R
35
44
Eileen Kowall
R
35
51
Joseph Graves
R
30
56
Dale Zorn
R
35
64
Earl Poleski
R
35
65
Mike Shirkey
R
30
70
Rick Outman
R
35
73
Peter MacGregor
R
35
80
Bob Genetski
R
30
81
Dan Lauwers
R
35
83
Paul Muxlow
R
35
86
Lisa Lyons
R
35
88
Roger Victory
R
35
90
Joe Haveman
R
35
93
Tom Leonard
R
35
94
Tim Kelly
R
35
97
Joel Johnson
R
35
99
Kevin Cotter
R
35
101
Ray Franz
R
25
103
Bruce Rendon
R
35
105
Greg MacMaster
R
35
106
Peter Pettalia
R
35


Bill Number
Sierra Club Stance
Bill Description
OPPOSE
MAEAP
Senate bill 123 would excuse a farm verified under the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) from civil fines for a water discharge, and specify that the discharge would be considered nonpoint source pollution, if the owner or operator met requirements to correct and report the discharge. This largely weakens enforcement of pollution control on farms. This bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives.
OPPOSE
No Stricter Than Federal
House Bill House bill 4326 would weaken the ability of the Governor and the agencies he directs, like the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources, from creating rules that protect the Great Lakes. The bill specifically would prohibit a government agency from adopting rules that are more stringent than existing applicable federal regulations, which are designed to be only a minimum standard below which states are not allowed to fall. Governor Snyder vetoed this bill.
OPPOSE
Pollution Exemptions for Small Business
Senate bill 272 requires a small business impact statement for proposed regulations, including economic forecasting and a cause of action which can invalidate the regulations if the forecast is inaccurate.  The bill requires an agency to consider exempting small businesses from a rule under certain circumstances and expands the methods by which an agency must reduce the economic impact of a rule on small business. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 0243'11.
OPPOSE
Granting State Land for More Roads
House Bill 4298 opens the door to unnecessary proliferation of road construction in pristine areas and state forests. It requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to grant land to private citizens for roads over state owned property and changes some of the requirements by which to do so. If all of the requirements listed in the bill are met then the DNR shall grant the easement. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 323’11.
OPPOSE
Eliminate Double Liner Requirement for Landfills
House Bill 4875 removes the requirement of a secondary monitoring and protection liner on landfill research, development, and demonstration projects (RDDP). Given the by-definition untested nature of these projects, a secondary liner ensures the opportunity to contain potential contamination of soil and groundwater as the long-term viability of the project is determined. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 215’11.
OPPOSE
DNR Land Cap
Senate Bill 248 prohibits the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from acquiring surface rights to more than 4.6 million acres of land. Land controlled by the DNR is essential to protecting Michigan’s environment and promoting tourism throughout the state. At the time of passage, the DNR owned 4,472,175 acres of land, so SB 248 heavily limits the amount of new land that the DNR can acquire. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 240'12.
OPPOSE
Environmental Leader Exemptions
Senate Bills 939 create the Environmental Leaders program under the DEQ. This is a voluntary program that provides incentives for businesses to become certified "Environmental Leaders." Environmental leaders will undergo certain requirements, such as creating a pollution prevention program and conducting their own periodic assessments to identify areas for improvement. Incentives include less frequent inspections, 72 hours advanced notice of environmental inspections, less frequent permit renewal, certain fee waivers, and limited liability. Overall, this program will set the bar too low for businesses that can be classified as environmental leaders. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 554’12.
OPPOSE
Limit Public Input in DEQ’s Permitting Process
Senate Bill 275 allows the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) only 30 days to determine if an application for a permit is administratively complete. If the department has not made a determination by the end of the 30-day period, the application automatically is considered complete and the department is required to pay the applicant a specified fee. It also limits a department from requesting additional information from a permit applicant once the application is considered administratively complete. This bill was signed into law as PA 246’11.
OPPOSE
Weaken Protections for Sand Dunes
Senate Bill 1130 amends the law which governs permitting for proposed developments of Critical Dune Areas. Among other changes, it makes it harder for residents to request a public hearing before the issuance of a permit, prohibits local critical dune zoning ordinances stricter than the state's model ordinance, prohibits a local government from requiring an environmental impact statement except for special use projects, and removes the prohibition on permitting uses which are not in the public interest. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 297’12.
OPPOSE
Weaken DEQ Oversight for Leaking Underground Storage Tanks
Amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to define and reduce liability and modify the procedures taken for leaking underground storage tanks. The bills cut fines in half for failing to meet leak reporting deadlines, absolve certain classes of owners from liability for leaking tanks, and cap damages in civil suits filed under the act. The bills were signed into law as Public Act 108’12.
OPPOSE
Weaken DEQ Oversight for the Cleanup of Contaminated Sites
Weakens cleanup procedures for sites where contaminated groundwater is venting to surface water bodies. The bill lessens DEQ oversight and reduces the government's role in the cleanup process, which could lead to compromised public health. The bill was signed into law as Public Act 190’12.
OPPOSE
Remove Beach Grooming Protections
Senate Bill 1052 deregulates beach maintenance below the ordinary high water mark, threatening shoreline wetland protections. During periods of low water levels, submerged plants and wetlands are exposed. When they are removed or covered with beach sand, it damages lake ecology by destroying fish spawning beds, increasing lake sediment, lowering oxygen levels, and destroying habitat. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 247’12.
OPPOSE
Voter Suppression
SB 751 would require
photo ID when voters register and when they pick up absentee ballots. These requirements will deter qualified voters who lack photo IDs from voting. SB 751 also creates an inactive voter roll which could seriously impact many Sierra Club members who are young and tend to vote sporadically, or any other demographic of sporadic voters. Regardless of how often someone votes, it should be easy for them to vote, and their vote should not automatically be challenged. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 270’12.
OPPOSE
Voter Registration Regulations
This bill establishes new, burdensome regulations on organizations that assist others in registering to vote. This will make it more difficult to encourage Sierra Club members to get registered to vote. This bill was vetoed by Governor Snyder.
OPPOSE
Eliminate Biodiversity Stewardship Areas
Senate Bill 1276 prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from managing an area of land specifically to promote biological diversity. It also removes "restoration" from the definition of biodiversity conservation. This bill could impact Michigan's forest certifications, which require biodiversity management, as well as hamper programs to preserve unique ecosystems and eradicate invasive species. This bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives. 
OPPOSE
Authorize Gray Wolf Hunting Season
Senate Bill 1350 Established Gray Wolves as a game species within a year of being delisted from the Endangered Species Act. There was not scientific consensus supporting this proposal, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' had not yet performed their five year scientific study on the gray wolf population required under the Michigan Wolf Recovery Plan. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 520’12.
OPPOSE
Nonferrous Metallic Severance Tax
House Bill 6007-6012 changes the ad valorem tax structure formerly in place for nonferrous minerals to a severance tax structure. The proposed tax rate of 2.75% is significantly lower than Wisconsin’s graduated tax rate of 3 to 15%. No part of the revenue raised by the new tax was specifically allocated for potential environmental cleanup costs associated with mining. This bill package was signed into law as Public Act 409’12.
SUPPORT
Civilian Conservation Corps
Senate bills 1261-1265 revive the Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps. It designates the Department of Natural Resources as the administrator of the program, sets eligibility requirements and directs the DNR to work with universities, businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop funding sources. Corps members would perform hands-on conservation projects while gaining experience and earning college credits. This bill package was signed into law as Public Act 574’12.
SUPPORT
Require Government Units to Implement Energy Efficiency
House Bill 5727 requires government units to implement energy efficiency measures to minimize energy consumption and reduce operating costs. The bill specifies energy performance contracts as the preferred method for implementing energy efficiency measures. The Department of Technology, Management and Budget will compile a list of five qualified energy service providers, develops pricing schedules and standardized processes. Energy service providers conduct an energy audit of government unit facilities, which becomes part of the energy performance contract. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 625’12.
SUPPORT
Strengthen Water Pollution Control
House Bills 5673-5676 expand the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, which provides loans to municipalities to control water pollution, assist with wastewater and sewage treatment projects and ensure safe drinking water. The bills also provide loans to municipalities for wetland mitigation and water quality improvements.  These bills were signed into law as Public Act 511’12.
SUPPORT
Create SE Michigan Regional Transit Authority
Senate Bill 909 creates the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. The authority will create public transit options connecting southeast Michigan localities. Increased public transportation options will reduce road congestion, vehicle emissions, and dependence on individual automobiles in the region. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 387’12.
OPPOSE
Eliminate Biodiversity Management
Senate Bill 78 prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from managing an area of land specifically to promote biological diversity and removes “biological diversity” from the list of state forest management goals. This bill was vetoed by Governor Snyder.
OPPOSE
Allow NRC to Make Game Species Designation
Senate Bill 288 amends Parts 401 (Wildlife Conservation), 435 (Hunting and Fishing Licensing), and 487 (Sport Fishing) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to allow the Natural Resources Commission to designate a species as game, provide certain licenses free of charge to members of the military, and specify that the Natural Resources Commission has the exclusive authority to regulate the taking of fish. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 21’13.
SUPPORT
Fully Enforce the Wildlife Violator Compact
This bill strengthens Michigan’s hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations by allowing Michigan to fully participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, an agreement between 36 states to recognize hunting, fishing and trapping license suspensions by member states.  Under this bill, if a Michigan resident violates the game laws of another state, their license may be suspended, revoked or denied, and vice versa. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 37’13.
OPPOSE
Revise Michigan Wetlands Program
This bill makes several alterations to Michigan's wetlands program including narrowing the definition of "contiguous" by removing agricultural drains from contiguous determination and expanding permit exemptions. Overall, the bill weakens Michigan’s wetlands program and may put it in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 98’13.
SUPPORT
Increase hunting and fishing fees to fund more DNR Conservation Officers
This bill updates the structure of hunting and fishing licenses so that there is a base license and increases the fees on additional species licenses to pay for 40 more DNR conservation officers. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 108’13.
OPPOSE
Weaken Permitting Process for Chemical Management of Invasive Species
This bill extends the applicable time period for a permit for chemical management of invasive species from one year to three and allows a permittee to expand the area of chemical management and amount of chemicals used without a revision to the original permit. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 253’14.
OPPOSE
Double campaign contribution limits, non-disclosure for issue ads
Senate Bill 661 doubles campaign contribution limits, codifies non-disclosure protection for issue ads, and lifts the prohibition against primary spending by political party caucuses. It would require a committee to file campaign statements in July and October of a year in which there was no election for the candidate the committee was supporting or opposing and double the maximum contributions to a candidate or political party caucus committee allowed during an election cycle, and require the Secretary of State (SOS) to adjust the contribution limits for inflation every four years. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 252’13.
SUPPORT
Restrict Hazardous Waste Permit Eligibility
Senate Bill 20 restricts permit eligibility for managing hazardous waste based on previous criminal convictions, and requires disclosure for recent criminal convictions of environmental statutes. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 254’14.
SUPPORT
Eliminate Opt-Out of Groundwater Dispute Program
House Bill 4678 would require that high-capacity agricultural well owners participate in the Groundwater Dispute Resolution Program, which they are currently allowed to opt out of. This bill passed the House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate.
OPPOSE
Industrial Byproduct Reuse Including Coal Ash
House Bill 5400-5402 allows industrial waste materials, such as coal ash, stamp sands, lime softening residuals and foundry sand, to be reused on roads, parking lots, landfills, and farm fields for ground application. Sierra Club strongly opposes the reuse of coal ash and other toxic industrial byproducts. This bill package was signed into law as Public Act 178’14.
OPPOSE
Remove Protections on developing stamp-sand property
Senate Bill 872 exempts stamp sands from needing to be addressed under Part 201, exempting them from clean up requirements. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 258’14.
OPPOSE
Ban enforcement of new woodstove emissions limits
Senate Bill 910 prohibits the Department of Environmental Quality from imposing new state regulations limiting emissions from woodstoves and heaters, or enforcing federal regulations that do this. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 417’14.
OPPOSE
Make Michigan a “Right to Work” state
Senate Bill 116 prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Sierra Club opposes the anti-democratic nature in which this bill passed and was signed into law. The bill was passed through the legislature with no hearings or opportunity for public input, and an appropriation was included in the bill to prevent a referendum on it. As a founding member of the BlueGreen Alliance, the Sierra Club supports workers and their right to collectively bargain at full strength, and opposes proposals that weaken our brothers and sisters in the labor movement and their ability to organize. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 348’12.
OPPOSE
Cut tax on oil and gas from enhanced recovery
House Bill 4885 would give oil and gas companies a 40% reduction in the oil severance tax as well as a 20% reduction for natural gas, for “enhanced oil recovery” which entails pumping carbon dioxide into closed oil wells to extract previously unattainable oil. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 82’14.
OPPOSE
Authorize eminent domain for oil well CO2 pipelines
House Bill 5255 gives oil and gas companies new powers to site pipelines for the transportation of carbon dioxide on private property. The Sierra Club strongly opposes the expansion of eminent domain authority to private oil and gas companies at the expense of the rights of private property owners and the public. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 84’14.
SUPPORT
Safeguards on radioactive material storage and disposal
Senate Bill 948 would prohibit storing or disposing radioactive waste from another state or country in Michigan, and ban storing any radioactive material other than what is allowed under current law for nuclear power plants, uranium mines and medical uses. The bill would also create a state advisory board for the purpose of writing a report on the potential impact of depositing radioactive waste deep underground at a site in Kincardine, Ontario, as proposed by an Ontario utility. The bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives.
SUPPORT
Increased penalties on banned species introduction
Senate Bills 795-797 and 799-800 increase the penalty for illegally introducing a prohibited non-native aquatic species. The current penalty for introducing banned species is up to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The bill makes this three years and $100,000 in the case of a banned aquatic species. It would also authorize seizure and forfeiture of vehicle, equipment, or other property used to knowingly possess or introduce a prohibited aquatic species. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 537'14.
SUPPORT
Authorize local government energy efficiency homeowner loans
House Bill 5397 allows local governments in communities with a municipal utility to provide an energy efficiency loan program for homeowners through a voluntary on-bill financing program. This bill was signed into law as Public Act 408’14.
OPPOSE
Redefine DEQ PART 201 Cleanup Criteria
Senate Bill 891 weakens language of PA 451 (1994), allowing polluters more leeway in the timeline and extent of environmental cleanup, e.g. instead of requiring them to "immediately stop or prevent the release [of a hazardous substance] at a source" polluters would only be required to "take steps to prevent an ongoing release at a source." This bill was signed into law as Public Act 542'14.
OPPOSE
Classify Hazardous/Solid Waste Incineration as Renewable Energy
House Bill 5205 expands the use of solid waste as renewable energy to include plastics from incineration, industrial byproducts, and methane capture. Would classify the burning of pet coke, scrap tires, railroad ties, etc as renewable energy. It also removes the current limitation on building new incinerators. This bill passed the House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate.
SUPPORT
Limit Pension Investments in Hazardous Waste Disposal Wells
Senate Bill 1105 limits investment in hazardous waste deep disposal well facilities by an investment fiduciary of a large sponsored system (pensions). The Sierra Club supports this legislation due to the problems associated with hazardous waste deep injection wells such as fracking waste-related earthquakes and the negative impacts on local communities (like with the Romulus deep injection well). This bill was signed into law as Public Act 545'14.
SUPPORT
Expand Access to Energy Efficiency for Community Colleges
House Bill 5806 extends the term of installment contracts for energy conservation improvements allowed under statute for community colleges from a payback period of 10 years to 15 years. It also removes the provision requiring that "the cost of the energy conservation improvements be paid only if the energy savings are sufficient to cover their cost." This bill was signed into law as Public Act 485'14.
OPPOSE
 Weaken Lead Inspections Requirements for Rental Properties
Senate Bill 313 limits safety inspections of rental property to no more than once every 6 years, and allows property to go as long as 10 years without a safety inspection. Current law allows no more than 4 years to pass without a safety inspection. This has a negative impact on local efforts to protect children from lead paint poisoning. This bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives.
OPPOSE
Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act
This was a citizen-initiated legislative proposal that gives the Natural Resources Commission the power to designate game species, provide free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses to active members of the military, and appropriate funds for invasive species prevention. This proposal was designed to specifically thwart two citizen-initiated referendums that asked Michigan citizens to vote on whether or not we should hunt Grey wolves. This was approved by both chambers of the legislature and became law in 2014.


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